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Tour de France 2011 Betting Preview

On Saturday, the 98th edition of arguably the world’s most testing endurance sporting event begins. The 2011 Tour de France will see the world’s best cyclists racing over more than 3,400km in only 23 days and 21 stages. 198 cyclists will begin the race, but not all of them will be able to last the distance – 28 riders failed to complete the race last year.

As well as being one of the premier endurance races, it also provides a range of opportunities for betting, ranging from the most obvious market – outright winner – to some of the more unlikely markets, such as will there be a French winner on Bastille Day. As in any of the less mainstream sports, there is always likely to be more value as many of the companies do not have specialised cycling experts.

Unsurprisingly, the three-time champion, Alberto Contador, begins as a major favourite. He has won the race in each of his last three attempts, and has only failed to win the race once in his career – in his first ever attempt, where he finished 31st back in 2005.

Since winning the Tour de France last year, the focus has been on off-the-bike issues for the Spaniard, as he has been the subject of a long-running doping investigation, having tested positive for the banned substance clenbuterol during the race last year. Originally banned for twelve months, he claims that it was as a result of contaminated meat, and the ban has subsequently been rescinded by the Spanish authorities. However, an appeal is being considered, although it has been put back until after the race has been completed.

If Contador can put these issues to the back of his mind, he will be virtually unstoppable. He is the best climber in the world bar none when on form, which combined with his time trialling ability, puts him clear out at the front of the betting. He has proved himself again and again, and his performance in winning one of the toughest Giro d’Italia’s in living memory earlier this year put a massive marker down to his rivals.

The 8/11 available with Coral for Contador to win the race seems a very attractive price, particularly given that many other firms are only offering 4/7.

The only serious contender to Contador is the Luxembourg cyclist, Andy Schleck. The runner-up in both 2009 and 2010, he will be looking to finally go one better this time around. He is arguably the second best climber in the world, as proved by his two summit-finish stage wins last year. With four summit-finishes this year, he may fancy himself for a few stage wins. However, he will have to try and find some way to drop Contador on at least one of these stages, which he struggled to do last year, despite his best efforts.

He will be boosted by the support of his brother this year, after Frank was forced to drop out of the race after suffering a triple fracture of his clavicle on the third stage last year. However, even with this help, he has an uphill task ahead of him if you excuse the pun.

However, his form this year has been poor by his standards. He finished in a disappointing 8th position in the Tour of California – over 4’30 behind the winner – and followed that up with 19th place in the Tour de Suisse. Whilst he was not riding as the team leader in this race, he will still have been disappointed with his performance in the mountains. Even on the final mountain stage, where he looked to go out and win the stage, he was dropped on the final section of the climb by Thomas de Gendt – a rider that he really should be able to out climb.

Outside these two, there are a number of riders who will fancy their shot at a place on the podium. The likes of Cadel Evans and Ivan Basso have been there before and know what it takes. However, arguably their best days are behind them and last year, they were only able to finish 26th and 32nd respectively. Last year’s third placed rider, Denis Menchov, and the 2008 winner, Carlos Sastre, are both missing from this year’s race after their team failed to gain an entry slot.

This opens the third spot up to a newcomer. The young Dutchman, Robert Gesink, may fancy his chances. After finishing sixth last year, he has continued to show his promise by winning the Tour of Oman, finishing second in the Tirreno-Adriatico race and a very respectable third place in the Tour of the Basque Country behind Andreas Kloden and Chris Horner.

The main British hope in the General Classification is Bradley Wiggins. He warmed-up for the Tour in impressive fashion, winning the highly respected Dauphine Libere ahead of Cadel Evans and Alexander Vinokourov. His strong time-trialling ability will always give him a boost and his performance in the mountains two years ago shocked everyone as he finished 4th in the Tour de France, just being pipped to a podium place by the great Lance Armstrong. However, he disappointed last year, struggling to a 24th place finish.

An interesting outside proposition is the American, Chris Horner. He finished in 10th place in last year’s Tour, but has had an excellent year thus far in 2011, winning the Tour of California, finishing second in the Tour of the Basque Country and fourth in the Volta a Catalunya. He has claimed that only Contador can drop him on the mountains, which he backed up by leaving the likes of Andy Schleck in his wake in California earlier this year. He has a very strong team, but it means that he needs to be on form from the very beginning. Riding alongside Levi Leipheimer, Andreas Kloden and Jani Brajkovic, he is not a clear leader and if he struggles early on, he will likely not be the leader. However, an impressive start will see him backed up by one of the most talented teams in the race.

Blue Square offer a surprisingly high 40/1 on Chris Horner to win the race without Contador and Andy Schleck. Given these two are likely to take the top two steps on the podium, it seems good value for Horner to take third place, or at least, beat the rest of the field were either of the top two to slip up.

Looking at the other markets, the 11/4 offered by Sporting Bet on Jani Brajkovic to finish in the top 10 is relatively tempting. He is a very talented climber and should often feature relatively highly in the standings in the mountain stages. He will also hold his own in the individual time trial and his team should go strong in the team time trial.

Also with Sporting Bet, the 8/1 on Roman Kreuziger is quite tempting. The risk is that he is tired after having ridden in the Giro d’Italia, but he is likely to be the team leader and has finished in the top ten in both 2009 and 2010. A sixth-place finish in the Giro d’Italia suggests he is in good form, and given that he started at 4/1 to win the 2010 Tour de France, these odds suggest a bit of value.

One very good value bet would appear to be the 40/1 that William Hill are offering on John Gadret for the King of the Mountains jersey. He rode wonderfully in the Giro to finish 4th, but won’t be riding as the GC contender for his team in this race. As a result, he may fancy his chance for a couple of stage wins and the Polka dot jersey. Given that the biggest odds elsewhere are 18/1, these odds seem great value.

The battle for the green jersey should be interesting, but it remains to be seen what effect the change of the rules on the award of points will affect this. Understandably, Mark Cavendish starts as big favourite for the jersey, but the 11/8 on offer is not that tempting, given his not entirely impressive form thus far this year.

One final bet in one of the other markets. Alberto Contador, despite being the clear favourite, tends not to win many stages. He only has three stage wins to his name, one of which was a time trial, and tends to allow other riders who have stayed with him on the climbs to take the glory of the stage wins. Therefore, the 1/1 offered by Bet365 on Contador winning under 1.5 stages seems decent.


Alberto Contador to win @ 8/11 (Coral)
Chris Horner to win W/O Contador & Andy Schleck @ 40/1 (Blue Square)
Jani Brajkovic to finish top 10 @ 11/4 (Sporting Bet)
Roman Kreuziger to finish top 10 @ 8/1 (Sporting Bet)
John Gadret to win King of the Mountains @ 40/1 (William Hill)
Alberto Contador to win under 1.5 stages @ 1/1 (Bet365)



  1. Will you be updating the blog during the race?

  2. Yeah, I will try to update it on a fairly regular basis...

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